Category Archives: Personal growth

Bartimaeus, stick a sock in it!

jesus_healing_blind.gifWhat do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked. (Mark 10:51)

Bartimaeus was the lucky guy to whom this question was addressed. He was blind, a beggar, and when he heard Jesus was passing by he began yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

The crowds tried to quiet him. If it was 2008, security would have tasered him. But he was desperate. No way was he going to let this opportunity slip by.

A blind man in that day was helpless, hopeless, destined to sit by the road and spend his pathetic life begging. Bartimaeus knew this might well be his only hope of rising above his circumstances. He kept yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus turned and asked:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Wow! I’m trying to imagine how that must have felt. Like Bill Gates handing you his ATM card and giving you the PIN number. What is it you need? Take my debit card. There’s enough in the account to cover it. Just take what you need!

What lesson can we take from Bartimaeus today? A couple of things. First, seize the opportunity when it presents itself. It may not come around again. Jesus may never have passed that way again. Bartimaeus knew it may be his one and only hope.

The other lesson? Persistence. Tenacity. Forget the detractors. Don’t listen to those who try to hold you back, hold you down.

If there is something you want, if you have a dream, a vision, go after it with your whole heart. Make no room for discouragement. Put away doubt. Cling to hope. Strengthen your faith. Then be ready to hear the words of Jesus:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

He’s still asking that question today of those who cry to him with their whole heart!

Hidden between the lines

desert2.jpgThe whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sinai, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Exodus 17:1

Discovered this little passage a while back. It’s the kind of verse I would  normally fly right over the top of. But something between the lines caught my eye.

It seems to be saying that sometimes, God intentionally leads us into dry places. Look at the context. The Israelites were following a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and it led them to a place where there was no water.

I’m not sure about you, but in my life, I have times I feel close to God. Other times, He’s light years away.

I love it when my time of devotions is sweet. God is speaking to me, encouraging me, giving me direction. I feel His presence in my prayer life.

But other times, just to be honest, I’m dry inside. Devotions are tedious. Prayer is laborious. Your time with the Lord is about as exciting as kissing your sister. (Sorry about that, Carolyn!)

Usually in the dry times, I blame myself. It’s my fault. I must be crowding God out of my life. He’s displeased with me for something I’ve done.  

But could it be that, like way back then, He is leading us into a place where there is no water?

See, it’s easy to live victoriously when everything is going well. Our faith soars when we are experiencing the blessings of God, when He is answering our prayers.

But during the dry times, all we have to hold on to is our faith. But the faith that really pleases God is the faith that remains strong when nothing is going right, when God is a universe away.

True faith evidences itself in the realm of the unseen.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I don’t like the dry times but I have come to learn that in those times, God is often doing His greatest work in my life. And if I will remain strong in my faith, well, like in the days of the Children of Israel, a major gush is just about to happen.

Keeping it between the white lines

hiker.jpgO Lord, I know it is not within the power of man to map his life and plan his course, so you correct me, O Lord, but please be gentle. Don’t do it in your anger or I would die. Jeremiah 10:23,24

The farther down life’s road I travel, the more I realize the futility of trying to make it in my own strength…. my own wisdom. I have way too many bumps on my head from hitting the wall, too many strawberries on my knees from stumbling and falling.

Thankfully, God is there to guide and direct. To provide course corrections along the way. And He does it gently if we call on Him often.

Driving down the H-1, I make constant itty-bitty course corrections with my steering wheel to keep between the lines. If I don’t, I’ll drift across the shoulder and then it will be the guardrail that corrects my course.

Calling on God often, spending time with Him daily, I allow Him to make innumerable small corrections in my life. If not, I will find myself calling on Him only in times of crisis and then enduring the pain of the guardrail.

O Lord, continue to perfect your will in my life, each and every day, I pray. Amen.

Mustard seed faith

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Reading, writing and arithma…. No. Sharing!

Note: You may want to review the previous post to put this post in context.

ala-moana.jpgLast time I wrote, I showed you a little trick for developing new disciplines. Simply take the discipline you want to learn and attach it to something you already enjoy.

It helped me get my exercise – my outrigger canoe experience. And it helped me in my daily devotions – my time each morning at Starbucks. In fact, right now, it’s 8:20 AM, Monday, November 13th, and I’m sitting under an umbrella on the outdoor lanai at Starbucks across from Ala Moana Beach Park. Temperature is in the mid-seventies. Gentle tradewinds. Hardly a cloud in the sky. Don’t you hate people like me?!

If coffee is not your thing, or sitting on some tropical beach in Paradise has no appeal to you, I have a couple other suggestions to help you get started in daily devotions.

Take some of the time you spend surfing the net, reading blogs and use that time to begin journaling. Read a passage of scripture and ask God what He has for you. I almost guarantee, a verse will jump off the page. That’s Him speaking. Then begin to write. Don’t edit, just write it straight out, stream of thought.

I longhand it first in a journal. If I write straight to the blog, I find myself writing for others, not for myself. Devotions should be personal. It is God speaking to my heart, pointing out areas in need of attention, attitudes, wrongful habits, areas of weakness in need of strengthening. However, it’s not all negative. From time to time, He says, “Good job, Del.” But like I said, often it is personal, not meant for the whole world.

One thing I do whenever possible, and it’s a lot of fun, I meet with two or three or four other guys and we do devotions together. Takes about an hour. We’ll sit quietly and read a few minutes. Then we spend twenty minutes or so, writing in our journals. Then we go around the circle and share with each other what we got. I cannot tell you how rich it is!

I recommend you have devotions with your spouse at least once a week. Don’t do it every day. You need one on one time with God. Do it together as a family. Do it one on one with one of your children. Do it over lunch break with a coworker.

Here’s a suggestion that will revolutionize your Sunday School. Instead of the traditional lesson, have everyone do devotions. I did it with a group of sixth graders and they loved it. Same format. Read, write and share. You’ll be amazed at the things kids come up with. God truly speaks to children. The best thing? My Sunday School preparation time was zero. No sweating it out Saturday night trying to come up with a lesson that would hold their attention.

On my next post, I’ll show you a format to follow as you journal. I’ll also discuss one of the main reasons we get sidetracked in our attempt to have daily devotions. It’s all about getting bogged down in some of the “boring” passages. There’s a simple solution I’ll share with you. Hope you’ll stop by again.  

Work those abs!

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of daily devotions, especially of journaling. But how do you do it on a consistent basis? It takes discipline and that’s a word many of us don’t care for.

But I found a secret for developing discipline that can make it easier, even enjoyable, and I’ll share it with you in a moment. First, let me describe what often happens when we try to learn a new discipline.

Years ago, I felt a need for regular exercise. I saw an ad on TV. Only three easy payments of $49.95 for a NordicTrack bicycle, guaranteed to give you abs of steel. Or was it buns?

I opened the box on a Monday, and boy did I have a great workout! Sixty minutes of pure cardio. It was awesome! The next day, another great workout. Forty five minutes of pure cardio. Wednesday, I was on a roll! Thirty minutes of pure cardio. I missed Thursday, but Friday, another great workout. Fifteen minutes of pure cardio.

Saturday, I took the day off in observance of the Sabbath. And Sunday, of course, is my own personal day of rest.

On Monday, I discovered another great use for the NordicTrack, one they failed to mention on the infomercial. I found that when you come out of the shower and go to your room to change, the handlebars make a great place to hang your wet towel. And when you go to bed, the seat of the bike makes a great place to hang your clothes.

Yep! For only three easy payments of $49.95, I had a new towel rack and a clothes hangar.

So much for the exercise!

canoe.jpgThen, some friends invited me to join them in their outrigger canoe. It’s a popular sport in Hawaii. The boat seats six and you paddle together as a team. I wasn’t up to par with the rest of them physically, but it was okay. They were there just to have fun and fellowship with other guys. If by accident, you got some exercise, that was frosting on the cake!

For the next two years, we went out three times a week. It was an hour of pure cardio in the most enjoyable setting on the face of the earth. Off Waikiki and around Diamond Head. Spectacular!

I developed the discipline of exercise without even knowing it.

So here is the key I told you I would share with you. You take the discipline that you are trying to develop and simply piggyback it, or attach it, on to something else that you really enjoy.

That’s how I developed the discipline of daily devotions. I attached it to something I already enjoyed. Here’s what worked for me.

I’m a coffee drinker. For years, I’ve started my day each morning at Starbucks. I would read the paper, then get out my day planner and go over my schedule.

Now, instead of the newspaper and planner, I read a passage of scripture and write in my journal. And I love it. It is not a drag. It’s something I look forward to. 

I developed the discipline of devotions by attaching it to something I already enjoyed, and like I said yesterday, I rarely miss a day.

If coffee is not your thing, I have a couple other suggestions you might try and I’ll share them with you tomorrow. The following day, I’ll give you an easy to follow outline for journaling. It’s all about SOAP. I hope you’ll stop by again!

Run that by me again!

People who study these kinds of things will tell you, there are three major signs to watch for that will tell you, you are aging. First, you will find that you begin to repeat yourself a lot. Secondly, you will find that you begin to repeat yourself a lot. Then last but not least, you will find that you begin to repeat yourself a lot.

That’s what the experts say, but then again, what do they really know? I’m getting older but I’m certainly showing no signs of aging. Furthermore, what do they really know? I’m getting older but I’m certainly showing no signs of aging.

Nope! Repetition isn’t necessarily a sign of old age. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of reinforcing something you feel strongly about.

By now, you know I feel strongly about the importance of daily devotions. Not just daily devotions but journaling on a daily basis. You’ll hear me repeat myself a lot on that subject.

The key to effective devotions is journaling. Without it, you can read a passage but your mind can be a million miles away. And when you walk away, you may not remember a thing you read.

When you know you are going to journal, you will actively search for nuggets of truth to write about. And the act of putting them down in writing is the glue that cements the truth to your heart. Otherwise, it can slide right off like a fried egg on a Teflon pan. (Hmm. Let’s work on the similes, Del.)

I began journaling occasionally about three or four years ago, but I made a commitment to it last year and I went from July 26, 2005 until August 27, 2006 without missing a day. Just call me the Cal Ripken of daily devos!

Lest I sound like I’m bragging, the way I truly feel is that for any day I miss, I have forfeited an opportunity for God to speak truth into my heart. To drop a little nugget into my bag of gems. It’s not always a diamond. Some days it may only be a pearl. But if you string enough pearls together, you can make a pretty nice necklace.

I’m going to write more on the importance of daily devos in the next few days. Tomorrow, I’ll show you an easy way to develop the discipline of doing it on a consistent basis. If I can do it, you can too!

Furthermore, if I can do it, you can too!